Monthly Archives: June 2013

Renewable Energy Sources by the Numbers

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About 17% of our worldwide energy consumption comes from renewables. And that share has not increased in recent years.

However, in coming years, wind energy and solar energy will probably bring that share of renewables up. Though the possibilities vary a lot by country. For instance, Iceland is making use of its great geothermal potential while Norway is relying a lot on hydropower.

The following infographic looks at our portfolio of renewables and offers an overview of the share of renewables in the energy supply, country by country.

This is part 2 of a 2-part series. Have a look at part 1 for an overview of our total worldwide energy consumption in numbers, including fossil fuels.

via Renewable Energy Sources by the Numbers | The Energy Collective.

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Q&A: What difference will Ofgem’s energy market ‘shake-up’ really make?

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What are the changes?

Ofgem is trumpeting its objective of a ‘simple, clearer and fairer’ energy market. The main planks of reform are as follows:

Limit of four ‘core’ tariffs – for each of gas and electricity, and for each payment type. Suppliers will also be able to offer extra fixed term tariffs via collective switching schemes.
End of ‘dead’ tariffs: If an old tariff isn’t ‘value for money’ then those customers will be moved onto their supplier’s cheapest variable deal.
Suppliers must give customers personalised info on the cheapest tariff they offer for them and use the new Tariff Comparison Rate in all communications with customers.
Ofgem will have more power to take action and fine suppliers who treat customers unfairly.
A ban on price increases during the term of a ‘fixed-price’ contract.

via Q&A: What difference will Ofgem’s energy market ‘shake-up’ really make? | This is Money.

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The question Horizon missed: What might UK shale gas mean for greenhouse gas emissions?

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What could extracting shale gas in the UK mean for greenhouse gas emissions in this country – and for attempts to reduce them in response to climate change? Carbon Brief breaks it down.

Last night, BBC 2’s Horizon programme investigated shale gas – “a new power source deep beneath the earth that could change the lives of us all” – asking what it means for the planet and for us. Geologist, Professor Iain Stewart, went to the US to examine its “energy rush” and what might happen if it was repeated in the UK.

The programme addressed many of the local environmental impacts of getting shale gas out of the ground. But, perhaps surprisingly, it avoided a big question – what might UK shale gas mean for climate change?

The USA example

Natural gas releases about half the carbon emissions of coal when it is burnt. Emissions from the United States fell to a 20-year low at the beginning of 2012 – a change the International Energy Agency (IEA) partly attributed to a switch away from coal and towards cheaply produced shale gas.

The UK could emulate this experience, argue many commentators. But the US example isn’t quite as clear-cut as it might at first seem. Here’s four reasons why:

The switch from coal to gas isn’t the whole story. A report from Bloomberg new energy finance identified three trends cutting US emissions – increased energy efficiency, more power from renewables and cheaper natural gas.

The decline in gas consumption in the United States meant it exported more coal. As a result, coal prices went down in the European Union and coal consumption went up. This pushed up emissions, particularly in the UK and Germany.

There’s no guarantee that the trend in the USA will continue in the long term. Last month the IEA warned that US emissions could just as easily go up again if the market changes and there are no policies to block a move back towards coal.

‘Fugitive emissions’ of methane could put a spanner in the works. During the process of extracting shale gas – fracking – gas can leak out. Methane is approximately 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100 year timescale. According to academics at Cornell university, fugitive emissions may mean shale gas releases more emissions than coal. But the question is hotly contested – many other academics disagree.

Is the UK the same as the USA? Not really

Some experts argue that that shale gas could be used as a ‘transition fuel’ in this country – that is, a cheap and relatively low-emissions fossil fuel that could help meet the UK’s energy needs until (hopefully) emissions cutting renewables or nuclear take over.

But the UK has a different power system from the USA. The country is already heavily dependent on gas – so there’s less potential for a coal-to-gas switch to bring down emissions. There is a chance that cheap shale gas could outcompete renewables rather than coal, driving up emissions.

via The question Horizon missed: What might UK shale gas mean for greenhouse gas emissions? | Carbon Brief.

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DECC insists Green Deal ‘inspiring people’ despite criticisms

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The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has responded to widespread reports that the Green Deal is failing by publishing new data which shows the scheme is “inspiring people” to install energy saving measures.

The research claims that 47% of households who received a Green Deal advice report as part of their assessment indicated they either had or were getting energy saving measures installed. In addition, 31% said they would ‘definitely or probably’ install at least one measure.

Saving money was listed as the main motivator behind getting a Green Deal assessment (68%), while more than half said that free assessments and finding out how to make the property more energy efficient was their main reason.

Interestingly, 85% of respondents did not pay for a Green Deal assessment with 59% saying that the assessor did not charge a fee and 26% paid for by landlords, local authorities or another organisation.

According to DECC, awareness of the Green Deal has doubled since the scheme’s launch jumping from 10% of households aware in November 2012 to 22% by May 2013.

Speaking at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Green Deal, energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: “It’s fantastic to see that Green Deal assessments are leading to people taking action to make their homes more efficient. This new research clearly shows that the majority of people are finding assessments a valuable experience that can usefully help them both understand where they are wasting energy and importantly what they can do to deal with it.

via DECC insists Green Deal ‘inspiring people’ despite criticisms | Solar Power Portal.

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Thieves ‘cheating death’ when they steal transformers

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The damage left 93 homes in the Scunthorpe area without power and Northern Powergrid said most were without power for some time.

The repair bill for the seven incidents is estimated to cost around £800,000.

Roderick Stuart, a spokesman for Northern Power Grid, said the thieves were lucky to be alive.

He said: “They cheated death. One wrong move and it would have killed them.

“We do believe this was an organised crime group and that is from the methods used to steal these transformers.

“They appear to be getting up the poles and attaching ropes or chains to the transformers and pulling them off the poles.

“These transformers were 11,000 volts and you would either have to be extremely lucky or know what you are doing to be able to remove them.

“They are getting very close to these 11,000 volt transformers. It is a miracle they are not electrocuting themselves.

“They disconnect cables and leave live cables hanging off.

“Anyone coming into contact with them, could be seriously injured or killed.

“In the year I have been working here, I have not come across this before.

“It seems to be quite a big operation.

“To get these transformers off the top of the poles, they would have needed the equipment to do that.”

Both Northern Powergrid and Humberside Police are appealing for residents to remain vigilant.

via Thieves ‘cheating death’ when they steal transformers | This is Scunthorpe.

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UK offshore wind supply chain must develop

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The UK must urgently develop the supply chain for its offshore wind farm industry or lose the opportunity to other countries, a report has warned.

A report by RenewableUK and Crown Estates said the UK has a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to benefit from its position as world-leader for offshore wind farms.

“The UK has, by a country mile, the world’s most successful and ambitious offshore wind programme,” said Maf Smith, deputy chief executive, RenewableUK. “We expect to dominate the international league table for ambition in offshore wind for some time to come. However, it is important to consider the next phase of growth, and take stock of what further opportunities could come to the UK.”

UK wind farms currently provide three gigawatts of power while construction of new farms in areas such as Barrow, Belfast, Lowestoft, Merseyside, Grimsby, Teesside and Mostyn will add a further 1.5 gigawatts of capacity. By 2020 the country could be generating up to 20 gigawatts of offshore wind power, the report said.

Other European countries, however, supply the majority of components and services. And Germany and France are already providing financial incentives to develop infrastructure and are helping attract inward investment, the report authors said.

via UK offshore wind supply chain must develop | Official CIPS Magazine – Supply Management.

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Germany spearheads global renewable energy awareness

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The streets of Berlin face a different kind of traffic than those of Riyadh: bicycle traffic, which speaks multitudes in a city cultured with environmental awareness, so much so that Energiewende – literally: energy transformation – has become a word recognized in every household and office building in the German capital.

Following the Fukushima incident in 2011, the Germans took an almost unanimous vote on moving away from nuclear energy and promoting renewables. This vote has lead to a consensus on nuclear phaseout, which has become a tenant of Energiewende, emphasized by the high public tension surrounding nuclear energy.

Rainer Baake, currently the director of Agora Energiewende and formerly State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety said at a roundtable: “Nobody wants to get back into nuclear. It is very clear that everybody wants to expand on renewables.”

Renewable energy is an economic, environmental and political concern in Germany, currently emphasized by their upcoming elections in September. The main sources of renewable energy in Germany are wind power, solar and photovoltaic cells, collectively making up between 23 and 25 percent of the European nation’s energy structure, according to Agora Energiewende, along with several government organizations in Berlin.

via Saudi Gazette – Germany spearheads global renewable energy awareness.

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Energy bills to soar even higher as homes face regular blackouts

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The country could also be plunged into regular blackouts in just two years as power stations close and investment in new plants is held off.

Families already struggling to pay their bills could see their electricity bills soar by 20 per cent by the end of next year as reliance on foreign gas grows.

It means the average household’s electricity bill, currently around £570, could rocket by another £114 to £684 by the end of next year.

Experts say the average household dual fuel bill, currently £1,400, could shoot up to £2,000 in the next five years, forcing many into fuel poverty.

The stark warning is expected to be laid out in Ofgem’s electricity supply and demand forecast, due in a few weeks.

Energy regulator Ofgem is likely to reveal that storage capacity has fallen as gas-fired plants are gradually mothballed and cheaper coal-fired plants are forced to run at full pelt.

The price of gas has soared as North Sea supplies dwindle, forcing a greater reliance on foreign imports. Energy firms say they will not invest in gas until it becomes more profitable or Government subsidises it along with green energy.

Mark Todd, founder of energyhelpline.com, warned that Britain is in a “supply crunch” with energy prices likely to soar as a result. He said: “Coal-fired stations are being closed due to the drive for green energy and nuclear power stations are gradually becoming defunct.

via Energy bills to soar even higher as homes face regular blackouts | UK | News | Daily Express.

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UK bill-payers ‘may fund rail electrification by back door’

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The companies are at odds with Network Rail over who should pay for their electricity cables to be rerouted to make way for the work to upgrade Britain’s train lines.

The government is pushing ahead with a multi-billion pound programme to switch Britain from diesel to electric trains, which are faster, greener, quieter and can carry more passengers.

The bulk of the costs will be borne by the general taxpayer and power network companies say this should also be the case for the work to their cables, which is needed to ensure they are a safe distance away from Network Rail’s gantry systems that provide power to trains.

But the companies fear Network Rail is expecting them to pay for the work and claim this would lead to bill-payers in some regions picking up a disproportionate share of the costs.

Tim Field, spokesman for Energy Networks Association, representing the electricity and gas networks said: “Electricity customers should not be funding rail electrification by the back door through their bills.”

via UK bill-payers ‘may fund rail electrification by back door’ – Telegraph.

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Renewable energy is the way forward

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The UK’s renewable energy market continues to grow, generating 11.3% of the energy we consumed last year compared to 9.4% in 2011.

And it seems like more and more businesses are recognising the potential benefits and investing in some long term energy methods.

Ian Burrow, Head of Renewable Energy at NatWest and RBS takes a closer look.

Although there were mixed feelings in 2012 with the government’s Energy Bill in November generating some debate among commentators and investors, the future appears to be bright for renewable energy projects.

Renewable energy technologies are becoming increasingly attractive as businesses and landowners recognise the potential of renewable energy and the chance to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, reduce costs and provide a positive environmental impact.

This is particularly true in the farming community where opportunities are rife to make solid investments for the future.

RenewableUK estimates that the average farmer can make between £12,000 and £50,000 a year through utilising renewable energy.

In July 2011, NatWest launched a dedicated Renewable Energy Fund to support businesses looking to install wind turbines and solar panels.

Since the launch of the £50million fund, interest has grown notably.

via Renewable energy is the way forward | Bdaily Business News.

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